Australian cyclists Glenn O'Shea, Melissa Hoskins and Anna Meares have given the Cyclones a gold, silver and bronze medal respectively on the third day of racing at the UCI Track World Championships in Melbourne.
The results moved the Australians to second on the medal table and to the top of the medal tally. The Cyclones have two gold, four silver and one bronze for a total of seven medals while Great Britain is on top of the table with a total of four gold medals.
O'Shea's win came in the six race omnium event raced over two days but which in the end came right down to the wire with the Australian tied on points with Canadian Zac Bell as the pair lined up for the final kilometre time trial round to decide the winner.
O'Shea burst from the gate to take the early lead on the first of four laps which caused the full house to erupt in support. That spurred him on and at each time check he held the advantage. Across the line his was the second fastest time of the round but more importantly it was six places better than Bell.
"It’s unbelievable," said O'Shea. "In front of a home crowd, in the kilo…you never know how you’re going, but the crowd pulled me on."
O'Shea's gold medal points total at the end was 22 with Bell hanging on for silver on 28 points just one ahead of Denmark's Lasse Hansen who claimed the bronze medal on 29 points.
O'Shea had started his omnium campaign with a third place in the flying lap before placing fifth in the points race and second in the elimination race on Thursday. That gave him a handy lead and a six point buffer over Bell at the midway point of the competition. On Friday morning he lined up in the 4000 metre individual pursuit but didn't do quite as well as he'd hoped.
"I was a bit shattered this morning," said the 22 year old who rode in the pursuit team that claimed silver on day one. "Two sub four minute team pursuits took it out on me and I was really disappointed with my (omnium) pursuit, it’s the slowest one I’ve ever done."
His solo effort was the sixth best time of the round and he then regrouped for a fourth place in the scratch race.
" I just had to pick myself up," he said of the hiccup in what is only his second time racing the omnium at an international level. "I think I was annoying everyone in the pits by how amped up I was before the kilo.
"Just to be here is amazing," said the South Australian who is competing at his first senior world titles and in his first full year back on the bike after two years racked by illness including chicken pox that forced him to withdraw from the 2009 world titles and glandular fever that saw him quit riding for more than a year.
He was crowned Australian omnium champion in mid December last year and in January won the individual pursuit, omnium and Madison gold medals at the Beijing World Cup round.
"Eighteen months ago I set myself a goal, to go to the Olympics and I’ve been ticking off the boxes ever since," said O'Shea. "This is a massive one ticked. I can hopefully go to London and do the same thing. But I'll leave that up to the coaches and selectors to decide."
Earlier in the night West Australian Melissa Hoskins added another silver to her week's tally when she sprinted home in second place in the 10 kilometre women's scratch race.
“I thought I was out of it with about a lap to go, there was almost a fall on the front straight (and) it’s not very often I get scared in a bunch but that one threw me off a bit," she explained after the race. "I had to come about four wide in the back straight but I tell you what the crowd is nice and loud tonight."
The race was hectic from the start with Hoskins lucky to survive the first lap.
“About half a lap after the gun I got put into the fence on the back straight," she said. "I thought ‘oh come on it’s not going well I almost got put out on the first lap' but it was a very quick race and credit to all the girls. I think woman’s cycling has come along way.”
Hoskins who rode with the pursuit team to a silver medal on Thursday went into the race as one of the favourites after a solo attack in the same event at the London World Cup netted her the win. But tonight she was well marked.
“I drifted a bit far back and with about three laps to go a move went and I thought ‘oh I’m in a bit of trouble here’, and it got a bit messy which actually suits me so I was like 'this is good there’s people everywhere'.
"You just have to dodge and pick and choose where you go.”
Australia's third medal of the night came in the women's sprint where the much anticipated showdown between defending world champion Anna Meares and reigning Olympic champion, Victoria Pendleton came in the semi-final and was fast, fierce and hard fought.
In the first of the best of three heats Pendleton had the inside running to the line but as Meares drew level the Brit moved up out of her lane, hit the unyielding Meares and crashed to the track. Round one to Meares and to add insult to injury Pendleton as also issued with a warning by officials.
"I was right next to her when she hit the deck, I saw it, I heard it, I felt it. But I think that just goes to show Australia and the world what kind of champion she is," said Meares of her rival. "She picked herself up and dusted herself off and did not let it faze her. She's a great champion for that."
In the second heat Meares led out the sprint and seemed to have Pendleton pegged but the Australian couldn't control her speed on the bend into to the home straight and veered out of the sprint lane. She crossed the line first but officials gave the win to Pendleton and a warning to Meares.
"It was very disappointing to feel that I had progressed to the final - and then to lose so agonisingly," admitted Meares. The decision set up an dramatic third heat decider which this time saw Meares launch the sprint only to have Pendleton mow her down to claim the win in a photo finish on the line.
Pendleton progressed to the gold medal final against Lithuanian Simona Krupeckaite and won the first heat. In the second Krupeckaite crossed the line first but officials rued she had veered out of the sprinters lane and reversed the placings to give Pendleton the win and her sixth sprint world title.
Meares meantime defeated up and comer Lyubov Shulika of the Ukraine in two straight heats to secure the bronze medal.
"I want to win, I'm a competitor and I want to be perfect but this is an event in which perfection is so hard to come by," said Meares who was in tears as she acknowledged the support of family, friends and the home crowd in the Arena to cheer her on. "We've seen that tonight, an Olympic year, the qualifications are close and the races are hard-fought, there's crashes and relegations. People are starting to really fight hard because of how important it is."
But Meares, who had launched the defence of her sprint crown with a sizzling world record time of 10.782 for the flying 200 metre qualifying, also warned that the story isn't finished yet.
"I think this is a book which hasn't finished being written yet. The big dance is in London in a few months time."
While Meares was bumped out of a final by officials her team mate Shane Perkins was promoted back into the sprint rounds after his French rival Mickael Bourgain was relegated in their quarter final bout. In Saturday's semi-final he'll meet another Frenchman, Gregory Bauge, who won in 2009 and 2010. He won last year but was later stripped of the individual sprint and the team sprint crown her won with France due to a backdated suspension for failure to comply with whereabouts rules for doping controls and for missing a test.
Bauge was the fastest qualifier with a flying 200m time of 9.854 seconds while the Victorian, who already has a gold medal around his neck from his victory with Scott Sunderland and Matthew Glaetzer in the team sprint, qualified eight fastest in 9.965.
The fastest of the Australians today in qualifying was 19-year-old Glaetzer who powered to an Australian record time of 9.902. That eclipsed the mark set by West Australian Darryn Hill 17 years ago at altitude on the Bogota track during the 1995 world titles in Colombia.
Glaetzer, the 2010 junior sprint and keirin world champion, defeated his first round opponent but then faced Perkins in the second round and was outpaced by his more experienced team mate. He was then relegated for a rule violation in the second chance repechage ending his sprint campaign. Sunderland meantime qualified 13th best and won through to a second round ride against top seed Bauge who won the match up.
Day three also saw the women's omnium get underway and South Australian Annette Edmondson got off to a perfect start with the top time in the flying lap round. She then placed fifth in both the points and elimination races to be on 11 points at the halfway point of the competition. Also on 11 points is Great Britain's Laura Trott with the pair ten points clear of the next best ranked riders.
Saturday's racing will see the women's omnium and men's sprint decided as well as three other finals. 2011 keirin world champion Anna Meares will line up to defend her crown with team mate Kaarle McCulloch also on the start list. Four thousand metre world record holder and defending champion, Jack Bobridge, will join reigning Australian champion Michael Hepburn and Rohan Dennis in the men's individual pursuit and Cameron Meyer will take to the track in a bid to reclaim the points race crown.
2012 UCI Track World Championships - Cyclones Australian team list and medal summary
- Men's Team Sprint* - Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland, Matthew Glaetzer
- Men's Omnium* - Glenn O'Shea
- Women's Team Sprint* - Anna Meares, Kaarle McCulloch
- Men's Team Pursuit* - Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn, Glenn O'Shea, Rohan Dennis
- Women's Team Pursuit* - Josephine Tomic, Melissa Hoskins, Annette Edmondson
- Women's Scratch Race - Melissa Hoskins
- Women's Sprint* - Anna Meares
* Events on the Olympic Games program
The eight sprint events are team sprint, sprint, keirin and time trial for both men and women.
- Kaarle MCCULLOCH (Gymea Bay, NSW 20.01.1988) 2011 team sprint world champion
- Anna MEARES (West Richmond, SA [formerly QLD] 21.09.1983) 2011 team sprint, sprint and keirin world champion
The eleven endurance events are men's and women's team pursuit, individual pursuit, scratch race, points race and omnium plus the Madison for men.
- Jack BOBRIDGE (Evanston Park, SA, 13.07.1989) 2011 individual and team pursuit world champion
- Rohan DENNIS (Vale Park, SA 28.05.1990) 2011 team pursuit world champion
- Alexander EDMONDSON (Stirling, SA 22.12.1993)
- Michael HEPBURN (Brookfield, QLD 17.08.1991) 2011 team pursuit world champion
- Leigh HOWARD (Waurn Ponds, VIC, 18.10.1989) 2011 Madison world champion
- Cameron MEYER (Helena Valley, WA 11.01.1988) 2011 Madison world champion
- Glenn O'SHEA (Ridleyton, SA [formerly VIC] 14.06.1989)